Tardiness and dishonesty crop up in Wright file
Questions about Jared Wright’s tardiness on the job grew from more than just one or two incidents this summer, records reviewed by The Daily Sentinel show.
Fellow Fruita police officers complained about Wright’s whereabouts at work as far back as 2010.
“This whole ordeal is about me being late for work by 17 minutes and a vindictive police chief scrounging for any grounds to end my employment,” Wright told a press conference on Monday.
In addition to being late 17 minutes on June 8, Wright on Monday said he was scrutinized over his account of 45 minutes on June 14 and allegations of insubordination with a supervisor. Wright said he was vindicated on the latter issue.
Records show the investigation was launched after a fellow officer, whose name was redacted in records released Monday night by the city of Fruita, filed a complaint with a supervisor on June 6 that Wright was “stealing from the citizens of Fruita” by calling “in service”—on the clock and being paid—but remaining at his private residence for periods of time.
Two officers said on approximately seven occasions—between April and June—Wright was scheduled to start work at 7 a.m. but Wright’s vehicle was still in his driveway roughly 45 minutes to an hour after radioing “in service.”
Interviewed on the issue by Fruita Police Lt. Judy Macy, Wright said he’s typically at home “10 to 20” minutes after calling in service.
“(O)K. How do you think that would be viewed by the public if they know that you were getting paid at 7?,” Macy asked Wright during a June 20 interview.
“If they, if they knew that would look bad. Now, here’s how I look at it, though ...” Wright replied.
“.... and this is probably justification ...” Wright said.
“... um, because I’m, as I’ve told you before, this is I have a problem being late for work, yes,” Wright continued.
Wright added, “Um, but I view it as what’s the difference if I get in my patrol car and I head over to Aspen St. Coffee and I’m in there getting my coffee made? ...um, that’s that’s how I looked at it, I guess.”
Macy responded, “Yea. Um, there, here’s the difference is that you’re out in public ...”
TARDINESS A ‘CHRONIC PROBLEM’
The issue wasn’t new. Wright’s tardiness was described by one officer as a “chronic problem” in 2010, the investigation showed.
“During the first quarter of 2010, Officer (John) Coughran advise me that Officer Wright was coming to work late and this concerned him because he had no ‘back up’ during those times,” Macy wrote. She said she counseled Wright over the matter.
“Wright acknowledged the problem, stating he has had ‘this problem’ for a while and he would work to correct this issue,” Macy wrote.
On the issue of tardiness—not including the department’s assessment of Wright’s truthfulness during the investigation—Macy recommended Wright be suspended two days without pay.“I feel Wright took advantage of the fact officers with the Fruita Police Department often work without direct supervision,” Macy wrote in conclusion in a report dated July 12.
“Wright needs to understand the public puts a great amount of trust in police officers, which includes protecting lives and saving property, but also to be responsible and fair. The nature of police work allows officers a great amount of latitude in their everyday activities. Along with that latitude is the responsibility to not abuse the associated freedoms.” Despite the tardiness, Wright’s performance evaluations for 2010 and 2011 included mostly positive or neutral feedback from supervisors, including an overall finding for 2011 that Wright had met “minimal standards” for the job.
“Officer Wright competently handles his calls for service and is a resource on state statute and city ordinances,” reads a review dated May 2011 by Sgt. Kevin Paquette. “He maintains a high level of self initiated activity when not working his assigned calls for service. He also maintains his collateral assignment of assistant press information officer.”
Police Chief Mark Angelo found that Wright lied during the internal investigation about why he was not at work at 7 a.m. on June 14 and gave “more than one reason” why he wasn’t, in addition to his activities before showing up to testify at 8:15 a.m. at the Mesa County Justice Center.
“I believe Wright spent this time at home, knowing a supervisor was not on duty until 8 a.m. and would not be aware of his absence, nor question his location because he told them he was subpoenaed to court at 8:15 a.m.,” Macy wrote in a summary of findings to Angelo.
“He was specifically questioned about use of duty time on June 14 between 7 a.m. and 7:45 a.m., because he had not come to the department, nor put himself in service with dispatch, his supervisor did not know where he was at, and he again completed his timesheet showing in service at 7 a.m.,” Macy wrote.
Neither Wright nor Angelo responded to e-mails seeking comment Tuesday.